Trujillo builds a beach resort for Batista

Today is one of those stories of a badly remembered leader who built many things that his successors couldn’t keep going. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

The stamp today features a newly built beach front resort. The kind of all inclusive beach and spa resorts that the Caribbean is famous for. The Hotel Hamaca was one of the first. Yet the angle of the photo and the poor printing makes the hotel look like an airport terminal. A failure.

Todays stamp is issue A100, a 1 centavo stamp issued by the Dominican Republic in 1951. The stamp features the Hotel Hamaca in Boca Chica. It is part of a 7 stamp issue that features the hotels of the Dominican Republic. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents whether it is mint or used.

Rafael Trujillo was the strongman leader of the Dominican Republic from 1930 until his assassination in 1961. This is not completely true as during times of unpopularity with America he stepped back and let an aged vice president and his brother be his puppet. In 1955 he celebrated 25 years of rule with much public celebration even though he was theoretically not in power at the time. He tried to rename the capital Santo Domingo Trujillo City in honor of his rebuilding efforts after a hurricane. He even had a stamp issue for his mother for Mother’s Day.

Trujillo did much infrastructure building and regained control of the countries customs duties which were being seized by USA in lieu of debt repayment. He also worked to better control the border with desperately poor Haiti. He offered to take up to 100,000 Jewish refugees at the time of the Holocaust. In the event, only 800 came and most moved on quickly to the USA. Trujillo was assassinated while in his 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air by military leaders. His family was able to remain in power long enough to have the conspirators tracked down and killed but soon there was a second revolution and the family was forced to leave the country going initially to France.

The Hotel Hamaca in Boca Chica was quite the landmark when it was built. It lies on the largest lagoon in the Caribbean. There was a Trujillo vacation home in the bay that included a private zoo. In early 1959, Nearby Cuban strongman Batista left the country with his family and close advisers. He also allegedly made it out with many millions. Trujillo took a large financial tribute from Batista and allowed them to stay at the Hotel Hamaca. Denied entry into USA or France, they later went on to Portugal.

The Hotel Hamaca was closed very shortly after Trujillo left power. Resorts of it’s type are very successful in the Carabean so a quick closing is a rather stinging indictment of the countries future leaders. The most basic function of government is to keep things going. The hotel was eventually reopened in the early 90s and today operates as the Be Live Experience Hamaca Gardens. According to the online reviews it is not in a good state with much intrusion by locals panhandling the guests. In the old days Trujillo would have done that for the people, and only the important guests like Batista.

Well my drink is empty leaving me wondering why it is so hard to find a waiter in an all inclusive resort. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

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